Category Archives: health

Naked Innocence

So the time came to make the planned return trip to the nudist park in Alvord, Texas.  I was going to finally get to make my second visit to the place for the Labor Day holiday weekend.  But once again it was not to be.  My daughter caught a virus during her first week of school.  She gave it to me and her brother.  Of course, neither of them were planning to go along, and their mother would sooner find another husband than be naked in a place where other people would see.  They all think I am nuts for wanting to go spend time with other naturists gadding about naked in the hot Texas sunshine.  My wife wants me to get my head examined.  She thinks all the stories about aliens from outer space may have gotten my head artificially replaced by the Men in Black.

nude santa 1

And she may be totally correct in her assessment.  She is a school teacher, after all.  I, probably just like you, was carefully taught to never be seen naked in public because it is probably a sin, and it is definitely against the law, and it is very likely something only crazy people do on purpose.  Never-the-less, I did it once as a writing assignment for a nudist website that told me the review was wonderful and they were definitely going to publish it, and as of this writing, over a year later, they still haven’t done so (though a rival website reblogged one of my nudist posts from this blog).

bikeboy 1

I have come to the idiotic conclusion, though, that nudism isn’t sinful if practiced around like-minded people who are also comfortably nude.  I met and talked to nudists last year who were .very easy to get to know.  They were likable and no prettier in the buff than I am myself (and with my psoriasis pink leopard spots I am pretty horrible to look at naked.)  And the nudist park is not a place for sexual goings-on and sinful behavior.  It is a family environment where some people bring their naked kids.

I remember enjoying being naked as a kid even though I had been taught that Jesus is ashamed by seeing my nudity even though he is always watching over me, even when I am in the bathtub.  I remember one time when I was a pre-teen that I took my bicycle to the Bingham Park woods and rode it up and down the trails there completely naked.  And even though I had been carefully taught how evil that was, the cool wind on my skin felt good, and it was glorious to listen to the birds sing in a green wood almost as if it were the Garden of Eden and I was Adam, the first man.  (Hence the illustration of the bare bike boy.)

Sherry 1

It seems to me, now that I am old, retired, and probably at least a little bit senile, that nakedness is really a form of innocence.  I can tell you for a fact from being a parent and having, at one point, worked in a daycare center for ages five and below, that it is actually far easier to get a kid to go completely starkers than it is to get them to put on and comfortably wear clothes.  Nakedness is natural.  And if God had really wanted us to be naked all the time, then we wouldn’t have been born with a full suit of clothes on… er, wait… what?  Nakedness is innocent.  Anything bad that comes from it happens because of the things we have been taught about it as children.  A more enlightened society would probably be naked more than we are, especially inside temperature-controlled sealed environments… like houses, cars, and even spaceships.  Ah, yes, back to the Men in Black and possible head-switching again.  Aliens in their saucers are apparently often naked.  I wonder if Jesus is ashamed by their nudity too?

Anyway, I once again have failed to manage the planned nakedness I had been looking forward to.  I have to settle for the indoor, sealed-environment form of nudity as I am too sick to get to the nudist park, and would promptly be arrested if I tried to walk around the neighborhood like that.  But the failed evil plan did give me something to write about that at least makes me laugh.  And it is an innocent laugh, not an evil one.

naked426_n

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Filed under aliens, goofy thoughts, health, humor, nudes, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Ah, the Doctor Says…

Today I saw the doctor for a physical, with new insurance and new hope. I have survived the pandemic, so there is reason to think I am not immediately doomed for the next month or two.

Of course, you know that old men my age have to endure doctor fingers in places you would prefer fingers didn’t have to go. And you wonder why you have to turn your head and cough. Does Dr. Fingers find that amusing somehow? But my plumbing is working for now without the total Roto-Rooter job I was promised fifteen years ago.

And as far as the diabetes that is the most likely of my six incurable diseases to kill me goes, I have to wait on the bloodwork to find out. But my feet appeared to Dr. Fingers to not be on the verge of falling off. The diabetic foot care I have been religiously doing with holy diabetic socks, hot foot baths, duly pious daily foot massages, and careful infection-awareness-inspections of foot sores, has actually been working. The circulation in my feet is still good, even without magic crystals or sacrifices to arcane demigods.

Of course, he wants to put me back on drugs again. And after I had thoroughly gotten myself cold-turkey clean. Blood pressure drugs to ratchet up the valves that make my engine run without exploding. Arthritis medicine that might lessen the pain without exploding my heart. And cholesterol medicine that won’t turn my arms and legs and spine into wooden planks. Of course, he will investigate which drugs will net the highest amounts of drug-company kickbacks without actually killing me first. And he promised to consider my state of Chapter 13 bankruptcy too, because he can’t collect fees from homeless bums on the street. So, insulin is probably still not an option.

My doctor, however, is not Groucho Marx, and definitely not Harpo. So we will have to see if he turns out to be Chico, or one of the two Marx brothers that nobody remembers. (Zeppo and Gummo… I bet you thought I didn’t remember either, huh?)

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor

Vaccination Day

Yep, today I have an appointment to get a vaccination against Covid 19. Sure, I have to drive all the way to Fort Worth during rush hour to get there. And, yes, I have had bad reactions to flu vaccines in the past. But I am going to do this because it is worth all the risk to get a 90+% guarantee that I might be able to survive this pandemic.

Making your way in the world today is complex and daunting, especially when your poor health leaves you in pain every single day. You reach a point where you get depressed and wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just be done with it once and for all. I am certainly not going to die unfulfilled. I feel like I have contributed more than I have consumed. The world is slightly better for the fact that I have lived in it. But I am addicted to living my life, even with its complications. I need more of it if I can get it.

And this vaccine is not like the dead-virus vaccines that caused me pain in the past. It is new technology, a synthesized vaccine achieved by timely harvesting and decoding of the virus before it burst onto the world scene. It is the same sort of eleventh-hour solution that we will need to rely on in eight short years to rescue us from extinction by human-caused climate change. Momentous events are in the offing because they have to be. We are an inventive species, and we will either invent our way out of multiple existential crises or we will wipe ourselves out much faster than the dinosaurs were closed out.

But that’s all serious stuff. And this is supposed to be Funny Friday. So, Mickey, how do you rectify that mismatch?

Well, the Wizard in my Paffooney for the the day, Eli Tragedy, is basically a buffoon. His magical spells are mostly a matter of either dumb luck or extremely unfortunate blunders that magically turn out to benefit rather than destroy. Much in the same way that Big Pharma corporate wizards poofed up the vaccines.

And Mickey, as old Eli’s apprentice, can steal his master’s magic hat long enough to miscast his spells to the point that the world is awash in gallon after gallon of laughing-juice. And despite the troubles Mickey will be in, lessons will be learned.

So, here’s to vaccination! Today is my opportunity. May the cure not kill me, and let’s give life another chance.

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Now is the Winter of Our Discontent…

I am not Richard the Third. But I did do that soliloquy in college for my class in oral interpretation and got an “A” for it. I can channel those who think they have been wronged. I know whereof they speak… forsooth.

If you are not happy with the former President’s handling of the pandemic and economic crisis, (and if you are happy, I hope your recent lobotomy is giving you some peace and rest) you are not alone. The former Sun of York has not been the right answer. Hopefully the new ruler will do better, but only time will tell.

I am not, however, a dissembler like Richard. I have no evil plot to remedy the discontent. I can only tell the truth. I will probably die of the virus before this pandemic passes. I honestly do not fear death. I do fear for loved ones who are also at risk. But while I do not welcome death, it will not find me with any sort of burden of regret. I have been an honorable man. I have taught children, and acquitted myself well of the task. I have been a passable husband and father. I have committed serious acts of art… as well as numerous less-than-serious ones. This is not a suicide note. This is simply me declaring myself at peace with the universe.

Proof that Winter has returned to North Texas (and that I finished rebuilding my retaining wall)

And this is also me declaring that I once again am unwell. I’m pretty sure it is not the virus. I have been extremely careful. But this one stalks more successfully than the H1N1 and various bird flus that I have previously survived. It has mutated in an effort to be more virulent. And I always seem to get whatever serious virus is passing around.

Still, it is not the Coronavirus that currently has me sick and in bed. No fever. Only back pain, sinus headaches, and the blues. I also have a variety of other pains, mostly psoriasis in nature, but also some other internal ones. I could be suffering from prostate cancer, heart disease, or mini-strokes brought on by diabetes. My eyes are going bad. And I am not going to any doctors because of the risk of infection in the doctor’s office and the expenses that health insurance expects me to pay for myself. (I hope this pandemic eats all of Aetna’s lunches for the rest of the year. I have finally gotten away from them to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, but still…) There are plenty of ways that this current health crisis can do me in. I will endeavor to die at home on my own terms. And I stayed alive long enough to vote the bast***s out of office.

Proof that I’m not going anywhere by bicycle today.

I apologize that Mickey wasn’t funny today. Sometimes he needs to complain a little. Even Richard the Third was down and blue in between villainies. And he ended on one really bad day at Bosworth Field. I kinda hope that Trumpalump still has his Bosworth Field ahead of him even though he cannot be impeached no matter what he does.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, Depression, health, humor, photo paffoonies

Twenty Years a Diabetic

My bloodwork first revealed my diabetes in the Summer of 2000. So, the first of my two grateful notations is my diabetes. Surprise you, does it? There are very good reasons why this bad thing that happened to me has helped me more in life than some of the things most people identify as the best things in life.

Diabetes is a chemical nightmare that you fall into by a compounding of your worst daily habits. Your body turns food into a form that your blood carries to every cell in your body to provide the energy that every living cell runs on. But that form of chemical is glucose, a sugar. And sugar is not only the fuel for cellular life and activity, it is a poison.

Blood sugar is like highly combustible gasoline in an internal combustion engine. If you have too much gas causing too large of an explosion with every spark from the sparkplug, the longer you run it with your foot on the gas, the more likely you are to blow the engine up. This is the reason diabetes causes heart attacks, strokes, and can damage or destroy so many of your body’s essential organs.

The regulatory liquid that controls the sugar’s poison power is insulin. It is produced in the pancreas as a peptide hormone, a chemical that cooks and flavors the blood sugar to make it delicious enough to be more easily eaten up by the cells of the body. But sometimes the pancreas gets lazy or overworked enough to become rebellious and it stops producing enough insulin to cook the sugar. And sometimes, as in my case, the pancreas begins producing insulin who simply aren’t very good cooks. I have way too much insulin in my bloodstream, but it is wimpy and weak and couldn’t win a sugar cook-off if my life depended upon it. And my life does depend on it.

The reason I am grateful for diabetes is the plethora of fundamental life lessons that I had to learn in order to keep living a good life.

How well you can think and feel and move around depends on how well you manage what you eat.

Candy is out. If you like sweetness in your meals, natural fruit sugars like fructose, especially when combined with helpful, cancer-suppressing antioxidents like you find in strawberries, are a much better choice. Niacin is the name of a chemical you need to know when choosing what to eat. Niacin helps balance your blood sugar level, making your insulin gain levels in cooking skill chemically. You find niacin in things like peanut butter, pork sausage, chicken wings, and mushrooms, as well as many other foods. For nearly twenty-one years I have regulated my blood sugar successfully by making adjustments to my dietary habits.

And that leads to the other thing that I am grateful for. I am grateful for my ability to change my daily habits when necessary. I have learned that even deeply entrenched habits can be altered over time by small changes that I make note of and examine my progress with constantly. It has not only helped me navigate numerous health problems, but it has aided me with my 5-year Chapter 13 bankruptcy. So, I am grateful for diabetes and changeable habits.

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Filed under commentary, healing, health, humor

Sick of Being Sick

I woke up late this morning with a headache and my eyes crusted shut. Sick again. Not Covid. My temperature is 37 C. I have no symptoms that correspond. I am suffering instead from allergies. And high blood pressure. And diabetes. And arthritis. As well as psoriasis and COPD. Six of them. Six incurable diseases on top of being a cancer survivor since 1983. Soon I may be facing diabetic depression. It is crucial that I constantly take stock of my health conditions. It is how I have stayed alive for 64 years.

Being unhealthy is really hard work.

The dog and I were talking about it during our limping walk this morning. She’s been suffering too since she found and gobbled my wife’s secret chocolate stash. She nearly destroyed her liver, kidneys, and digestive tract by doing that stupid, greedy act of theft. Now she’s on milk-thistle supplements to keep from dying. At ten years of age, she’s the equivalent of a seventy-year-old woman.

“We have to keep walking on our walks together. Our lives depend on the good effects the exercise has on out hearts,” she says.

“Okay. I agree as long as you don’t make me sniff bird poo the way you do.”

So, we finally have an understanding on that one point.

I need to keep laughing too.

I have been adding a lot of comedies to my Disney+ watchlist. My Netflix watchlist too.

I need to write more too. I haven’t really written anything beyond my daily 500 words more than three times in the last two weeks.

I have novel projects ready to start; The Boy Who Rose on a Golden Wing, There’s Music in the Forest, and Kingdoms Under the Earth.

I have projects still to finish; AeroQuest 4 : The Amazing Aero Brothers. and Hidden Kingdom.

I simply need to re-energize my daily writing habit. I need to write more things that make me laugh again. I need to write a lesser number of things that make me cry as well.

These things all represent my reasons to go on living.

So, I am sick and relegated to my bed again today. The sad thing is, that doesn’t vary much from any regular day during the pandemic. It is hard to stay well. I need to eat very carefully, noting the numbers of carbs and not getting too little of the right kinds of proteins. More peanut-butter sandwiches and chili with beans. Soup is good food. I need to stay warm and keep my psoriasis sores as clean as possible. I need to stay near the airflow of my electric fan to keep me breathing well. I have a new heating pad, inherited from my recently deceased father, and I need to apply heat wisely to my lower back for just the right amount of time. And I must keep fighting to stay alive. My eldest son has threatened to kill me if I die on him before he’s ready to lose me. (I never bothered to ask him how that consequence happens.)

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, illness, Paffooney

Will Normal Ever Come Back?

Captain Action Spiderman and Captain America beside Han Solo from Hoth

We are now entering the most deadly time in the pandemic. We are expecting a hundred thousand more deaths in January 2021.

The question of whether or not I will even survive this month has not been settled.

I am still isolated at home with three members of my immediate family. Contact with the outside world is as limited as it is possible to be. Of the four of us, only my wife and son have to leave the house for work. My son has had Covid once already, so he probably still has antibody protection, but there are no guarantees he won’t get it again, and worse the second time. He works as a jailor and so he is exposed to Covid-positive inmates daily. My wife will go back to her teaching job this coming week. They are taking precautions as much as possible, but it is still in-person instruction. And my wife is at-risk with diabetes and high blood pressure. And there is no question in the minds of the Texas Board of Education that she needs to risk her life five days week to keep kids in school.

Star Wars and Star Trek Action Figures do not get along well on the shelf.

I am deteriorating from my many health problems. But I am only a little over a year away from being done with my bankruptcy and the paying off of my medical bills. So, barring another hospitalization, I can actually see light at the end of that tunnel.

But getting back to normal?

It will never happen. I will never again be well enough to make money as a teacher in a classroom, even as a limited-time substitution. If staying in my room and writing all day is my new normal, well, I am already doing that. But the things I have done as a normal thing will not be coming back.

Traveling is going to be a thing of the past. I cannot weather long car trips anymore. No more visits to Six Flags or Disney World, and maybe not even trips home to Iowa.

Doll collecting is also a thing of the past. I have no more money or time to pursue those little plastic people anymore, even at five dollars a month. In many ways I gave it up for good months ago already. And I probably have too many of them already.

“Child, child, have patience and belief, for life is many days, and each present hour will pass away. Son, son, you have been mad and drunken, furious and wild, filled with hatred and despair, and all the dark confusions of the soul – but so have we. You found the earth too great for your one life, you found your brain and sinew smaller than the hunger and desire that fed on them – but it has been this way with all men. You have stumbled on in darkness, you have been pulled in opposite directions, you have faltered, you have missed the way, but, child, this is the chronicle of the earth. And now, because you have known madness and despair, and because you will grow desperate again before you come to evening, we who have stormed the ramparts of the furious earth and been hurled back, we who have been maddened by the unknowable and bitter mystery of love, we who have hungered after fame and savored all of life, the tumult, pain, and frenzy, and now sit quietly by our windows watching all that henceforth never more shall touch us – we call upon you to take heart, for we can swear to you that these things pass.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe is correct. Without being able to physically travel to the past, you simply can’t go home again. We can travel through time, but only forward. But he is also right that the present time will pass too. And we all will eventually reach a time where we become timeless. So, we hunker down, live in the moment, and the world will become normal even if it is unrecognizable as what was normal in the past.

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The Sickening…

Today I am totally bloogelbombardoed. Seriously, there is not a better word for how I feel at the moment. I have a viral infection with no fever. Just body aches, a bad case of the blahs, and sinuses that won’t let me rest, or even stop leaking out the nose for more than fifteen seconds at a time. My trash is full of used Kleenex and toilet tissue that took over when the Kleenex box ran out.

I have to seriously worrywarticize the whole problem because my wife and daughter have returned from the Florida Disney World Reunion of the Filipino Sisters during the Thanksgiving Week, which they technically should have canceled due to Covid Crisisism.

I am staying warm, trying unsuccessfully to rest in bed, and drinking lots and lots of Mickenlooney Go-Juice (the Mickian words for Diet Dr. Pepper.) Fortified and warmalized by frequent cups of sugar-free hot chocolate. Carefully monitoring how close or how far I am away from deathualization.

But here’s why it shouldn’t actually be Covid 19. No fever. Good sense of smell. No vomiting. No breathing problems that weren’t there already before I got sick.

Still, my plan is to get tested if I am still sick after Friday (the seventh day after exposure and the fifth day of feeling bloogelbombardoed.) My wife will be mad at me for it, because it will put her on homebound quarantine again from school and her classroom. But, I figure that is a fair enough thing, because if I am Convidinated, either she or my daughter, the Princess, brought it home to me. Just because you may be asymptomatic, that doesn’t make you virus free.

If it is the pandemic virus, then so far my body is handling it rather well, underlying conditions and all. I know that could change quickly, and this post may be my swansong singy-thingy, my goobye-seeyalater to the world. But I hope not.

Did you learn any Mickian words from this blog-posty-thingy? If you did, I hope you never try to use them. It’s not that I hold a copyright or anything, but these words are generally frowned upon by the society we live in. And I have it on good authority that factory warranties of these words have all expired, so they might break down, blow up, or just generally make English teachers and editors mad. Oh, and Kleenex is not emboldicized because it is NOT a Mickian word. Some stupifyingly stupid corporation is guilty of that wildly Mickianesque weird spelling. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

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Filed under health, humor, illness, Paffooney, word games, wordplay

Strawberry Fields

This foolish essay about berries that mean love to me is only partly inspired by the Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That’s because, of course, their song was only about meditating. In the lyrics they take you to the “Strawberry Fields where nothing is real… but it’s nothing to get hung up about…” They are talking about a blissful place of no worries where we all need to go. And then staying there forever.

This, of course, I could never do. Worrying about the future is tattooed on my behavioral imperatives in the dark part of my stupid old brain. And while I often found that place of no worries, and lingered there for a bit, I found you could never really get anything done if you stayed in that state of strawberry fields forever.

But don’t get me wrong, strawberries are a critical part of every healthy mental diet.

You see, my meditations on strawberries when I was a child of eight, nine, and ten centered on the strawberry patch at Great Grandma Hinckley’s place.

She was, as I incorrectly recall, slightly older than Jesus when I was that age. By that I mean, though she seemed museum-quality ancient to me, I had derived wisdom about life, love, and laughter from her before Sunday School taught me any of those things said in Jesus’s words.

And I was given the task of mowing her lawn in the little plot of land surrounding her little, tiny house in the Northern part of Rowan where I also lived and grew and celebrated Christmas and Halloween and Easter and the 4th of July. And though I was doing it because she was so old, I never even once thought she was too old and frail to do it herself. Grandma Hinckley’s willpower was a force of nature that could even quell tornados… well, I thought so anyway when I was eight. And she gave me a dollar every time I did the lawnmowing.

But there were other things she wanted done, and other things she wanted to teach me. There was the garden out back with the strawberry patch next to it. She wanted me to help with keeping the weeds and the saw grass and the creeping Charlie from overrunning the strawberries and choking them to death. (Creeping Charlie wasn’t an evil neighbor, by the way. He was a little round-leafed weed that grew so profusely that it prevented other plants from getting any sunlight on their own leaves, causing a withering, yellowing death by sunlight deprivation. I took my trowel to them and treated them like murderers. I showed them no mercy.)

And Grandma always reminded me not to be selfish and eat the very berries I was tending in the garden. She taught me that eating green strawberries (which are actually more yellow than green, but you know what I mean) was bad because they could give you a belly ache, a fact that that I proved to myself more than once (because eight-year-olds are stupid and learn slowly.) She also taught me that it is better to wait until you have enough strawberries to make a pie, or better yet, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. She taught me that delayed gratification was more rewarding in the long run than being greedy in the short run and spoiling everything for everybody.

She always gave me a few of the ripe strawberries every time I helped her with them, even if I had eaten a few in the garden without permission. Strawberries were the fruit of true love. I know this because it says so in the strawberry picture. Even though I probably never figured out what true love really means.

My Great Grandma Nellie Hinckley was the foundation stone that my mother’s side of the family was built on. She was the rock that held us steadily in place during the thunderstorms, and the matriarch of the entire clan of Hinckleys and Aldriches and Beyers and other cousins by the dozens and grandchildren and great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. I painted the picture of her in 1980 when she passed away. I gave it to my Grandma Aldrich, her second-eldest daughter. It spent three decades in Grandma’s upstairs closet because looking at it made Grandma too sad to be so long without her. The great grandchild in the picture with her is now a grandmother herself (though no one who has seen this picture knows who it is supposed to be because I painted her solely from memory and got it all wrong.) But Grandma Hinckley taught me what true love means. And true love has everything to do with how you go about taking care of the strawberry patch.

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Blueberries of Happiness

I know I am mixing metaphors again. It is supposed to be blueBIRDS of happiness. But not only am I starting this essay with a berry theme, I happen to be allergic to blueberries, thus solidly symbolizing my somewhat complicated relationship to the state of being truly happy.

https://chopra.com/articles/8-surprising-benefits-of-blueberries

You see, blueberries are full of antioxidants that are beneficial in so many ways that I really need that it seems absolutely a bitter irony that they make me sick to my stomach and constrict my lungs. I used to love eating blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes, as well as fresh, cold ripe berries. They are good for my strained urinary tract and my glaucoma-plagued eyes. They help stave off cancer and help circulation to prevent heart disease. They are good for your blood pressure. But I also learned the hard way that they can stop me from breathing, a habit I really don’t wish to give up.

Mike Murphy and his girlfriend, Blueberry Bates

It is, unfortunately, a universal fact that no human life ever ran on one-hundred percent happiness. It is not possible to be a living, breathing, feeling human bean without knowing a little sadness… a little tragedy… a fair share of sorrow. In fact, I think it must be a rule that the happiest people you know have faced some of the hardest things you can imagine. My Great Uncle Harry was never able to talk about his experiences in Normandy during World War II. But I never knew a man who appreciated a good joke and a laugh more. My Grandpa Aldrich, my mother’s father, was probably the happiest man I ever knew, but his childhood was made difficult because of his mother’s dark secret, and how his father handled the truth about his birth. I too am a generally happy person. Did you know I have been in a psychiatric hospital after midnight admitting someone I love to the suicide-prevention ward? And I have had serious discussions on more than one occasion with more than one other person who was seriously discussing self-harm with me. I think there is probably no one in this life who truly appreciates happiness that hasn’t stared at least once into the dark eyes of despair.

It goes a long way towards explaining why I included a picture of Blueberry Bates in this essay. She’s a character in more than one of my novels, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius, Magical Miss Morgan, and Kingdoms Under the Earth.

Blueberry blames herself for the death of her mother. She was born a cyanotic, or blue, baby at the same time that her mother went into cardiac arrest during childbirth. The tragedy of her birth broke her father’s relationship to reality. He rejected the little boy who had been born to him because the mother, his beloved wife had died in the process. It fell to Blueberry’s two older sisters to take the baby, care for it, and give it a name.

You’ve probably figured out by now that Blueberry was raised as a girl even though she had a penis because her father would never have accepted the son whose birth killed his wife. He secretly blamed himself because the only reason they had a third child was because he so desperately wanted a son. So, he ended up with three daughters, the youngest one with a terrible secret that she really didn’t understand. And Mr. Bates never really came around to accepting that third daughter either. She was raised by her sisters Becky and Carla, and her Aunt Wilma, her father’s unmarried sister. And it took years of therapy and visits to the specialist in Minnesota who became the expert on gender dysphoria to reach the determination that Blueberry was going to be a girl and would transition when she was old enough. You are probably aware that this is a hard thing to deal with, especially when you don’t have any actual parents to help you deal with it.

But Blueberry is one of the happiest characters I have created in my fiction so far. She loves to draw, especially with colored pencil. She loves her boyfriend, Mike Murphy, to whom she revealed the truth, and in spite of Mike’s struggles with it, he eventually came to accept her not only as a girl, but as a girl he was in love with. That was a choice that didn’t sit well with Mike’s best friend, Tim Kellogg. Tim would have to come to terms with either accepting Blue as a girl, or losing his best friend. And that took more than one novel to decide.

Happiness is like that. The higher your kite flies in the April breeze, the harder it crashes to the ground. And if it is not destroyed in the fall, it longs to fly high again.

Happiness is a blueberry. And I like the taste very much. But I am also allergic to blueberries.

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